Weekend Wrap-Up

Sandler and Bieber bring the box office back to life

By John Hamann

February 13, 2011

Hawaii looks like a nice place to visit.

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The box finally was able to breathe a sigh of relief this weekend, as fortunes turned back to the positive - it's too bad a Justin Bieber gimmick was one of the movies to turn things around. Things were still just as bad on the movie quality side, as the only film garnering decent reviews this weekend was – wait for it – the Justin Bieber concert movie. Other openers included Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in Just Go With It, or more aptly, Just In Time For Valentine's Day; Gnomeo and Juliet, a 3D film about garden gnomes; and The Eagle, an old school historical action epic "starring" Channing Tatum. I'm happy the doldrums have been cast off of the box office, but did it really have to go like this? Justin Bieber, Adam Sandler and Channing Tatum? God hates me, I'm sure.

Adam Sandler's Just Go With It takes the top spot, as it was a solid Valentine's Day choice for couples celebrating over the weekend. Just Go With It earned a respectable $31 million from 3,548 venues, and had an average of $8,737. For Sandler, Just Go With It is at the lower end of his opening spectrum, but we have to remember that it is February and not June, and that this should really be looked at as a four-day gross, as Valentine's Day lands on Monday, where it is sure to have a very strong outing. Sandler's 50 First Dates was also a Valentine's opener, but that big day fell on a Saturday in 2004. 50 First Dates grossed $10.5 million on the Friday, which ballooned to $19.8 million on the Valentine's Saturday. Had Dates not had Valentine's on Saturday, the gross would likely be similar or less than that of Just Go With It.


Just Go With It cost Sony $80 million to make, a figure this one should have no trouble recouping. The Sandler comedy should already have $35-$40 million in the bank following Valentine's Day, and then will enjoy at least a better-than-average hold with President's Day falling next weekend. While critics didn't enjoy Just Go With It, audiences seem to like it. RottenTomatoes counted 80 reviews, and found only 15 that enjoyed the film, giving the rom-com a rating of only 19% fresh. Cinemascores, on the other hand, were the complete opposite – the overall rating was an A-minus, with females giving it an A. This surprises me, as the marketing seemed to be centered around Brooklyn Decker channeling Bo Derek in Blake Edward's 10, and Sandler plays a man who avoids commitment by faking being married. Based on that female Cinemascore, if you can't guess how this one ends, you should stop going to the movies. Regardless, Just Go With It will earn $100 million for Sony, and then make a similar amount overseas.

Second place goes to Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (remember, folks: it's just a movie. Don't go all Jim Jones on me). Whether I like it or not, Justin did very well this weekend at the box office, taking in a Hannah Montana-like $30.3 million. The 3D concert/bio flick opened at 3,105 venues, and earned a venue average of $9,746. Tracking didn't know what to do the Bieber fan base, but guessed at a $30 million or less number after being embarrassed by the Jonas Brothers flop ($12.5 million open, $19.2 million finish). That number turned out to be dead on. Reviews were surprisingly good, with 34 out of a possible 54 finding something to like (or buying into the manipulation), leaving the Bieb with a 63% fresh rating. This commercial was bought by Paramount for $13 million, and they are already seeing real dollars in return.

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